Wife cannot claim in-law's property for maintenance: SC

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New Delhi, Mar 16 (UNI) The Supreme Court has held that the right of seeking maintenance of a neglected wife is confined only to her husband and she cannot recover the arrears of maintenance from the property and assets of her in-laws.

A bench, comprising Justices S B Sinha and V S Sirpurkar, also imposed a cost of Rs 50,000 on the wife Sonal Ben who had got the properties of her mother-in law Vimla Ben attached, for recovery of the maintenance from her.

The bench pulled up the Karnataka High Court for overstretching the law noted ,''the High Court's order which was challenged by mother in-law Vimla Ben suffered from total non-application of mind and is wholly unsustainable. The said orders might have been passed only on consideration that Sonal Ben is a harassed lady but the fact that Vimla is also a much harassed lady, was lost sight of.'' The apex court also directed the immediate release of the properties attached to Vimla.

The court also noted, ''Sympathy or sentiment should not allow the court to have any effect in its decision making. Sentiment can be invoked only in favour of a person who is entitled to it.'' The apex court also disapproved the approach of the trial court as well as the High Court.

It ruled that maintenance of a married women is a personal obligation of the husband. Property of in-laws, including mother in-law, can never be the obligation to maintain a daughter in-law even after the death of her husband.

Sonal, a lawyer, had filed cases against her in-laws to get their property auctioned for getting the maintenance she was entitled to from her husband.

The court, however, made it clear that a wife is entitled to recover maintenance if the property in the hands of her in-laws also includes the property of her husband and the maintenance can be recovered from the share of her husband in the property.

UNI SC AE HT1315

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